With Beto O’Rourke Running, is Democratic Primary Too Crowded?

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? If you’re a Democrat and you want qualified, popular candidates, you might be wondering that. Beto O’Rourke has announced that he too will throw his name in the ring and run for the U.S. presidency. Now, it’s fair to wonder if the Democratic primary is simply too crowded.

O’Rourke nearly unseated Republican Senator Ted Cruz in Texas. Losing a race usually doesn’t propel politicians to any type of good fame, but O’Rourke nearly managed to flip a deeply red state. And already, O’Rourke is polling well in Iowa.

Back in December, O’Rourke was the third most popular candidate, trailing only former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. His popularity has since waned, falling from 11 percent to 5 percent. However, O’Rourke has yet to make a campaign stop in Iowa, which usually boosts numbers.

It’s hard to remember the last time a Democratic primary was nearly as crowded with big names as it is now. And the primary season is starting ludicrously early with several big-name candidates already active on the road.

The 2016 Republican primary was similarly crowded. Some analysts have argued that the crowded field made it easier for Donald Trump to fend off establishment, mainstream candidates to ultimately win the GOP primary.

Could Democrats see a similar primary race in 2020? So far, Joe Biden remains the most popular candidate but he hasn’t yet announced. Most of the candidates in the field right now have been pushing a more progressive platform than what we’re likely to see from Biden.

While the Democratic Party has been tilting left since 2016, it’s possible that the plethora of progressive candidates could divide the progressive vote. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have been running far to the left, with similar policies and ideas. Even Kamala Harris, who is regarded by many as a more centrist politician, has been pushing progressive ideas.

Then there’s O’Rourke. While O’Rourke has a pretty centrist voting record, he ran a very progressive campaign in the 2018 Senate race. The high number of progressive candidates could help a more mainstream candidate like Biden win the nomination, assuming that centrist Democrats line up for a single candidate.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is a political consultant and has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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